Castle Face Records just proudly dropped the debut LP from MALE GAZE, Gale Maze. The San Francisco-based trio features Castle Face co-runner Matt Jones who is an ex-member of now-defunct bands Blasted Canyons, Mayyors and The Mall.
This record has been a long time coming and the band has very little else released to their name, except for their debut 7″ on Mt. St. Mountain. Clearly, Gale Maze has been worth the wait, steeped in fuzz, distortion and downright dirty guitar hookage with a brooding goth vibe leaning heaviest on punk… followed by psych, pop and post-punk. Matt Jones and his crew have taken a different angle from his previous act Blasted Canyons, but fans of those old records will not be let down by this LP.
The record turns out to be seven tracks (or about 25 minutes) of marauding, pop-infused post-punk, as opposed to punk-infused pop. Gale Maze blitzes with a relentless attack fueled by buzzing, streamlined guitars and punching rhythms, displaying the rough-riding punk edge within their crushing and explosive formula. The buzz of guitar simultaneously screams with a screeching psychedelic tone and it’s all whipped around and thrown into a seemingly messy but calculated structure that makes tracks accessible, memorable and repetitive, exposing the underlying pop skeleton.
The songs average out between two and a half minutes up to about four minutes, expect for the LP closer which approaches six minutes. Within each you encounter a hazardous wave of dagger-like guitar angles, evidenced by the immediate fuzz crusting in opener “Smog Dawn” – complete with it’s coos and howls – or the ravaging, teeth-gnashing introduction of “Cliffs of Madness.” Rock-steady fuzz bass and a jangly string of psych-toned guitars provide a wobbly, ground-shaking affair that is best experienced at high volumes while flying down the highway. Jones’ vocals mix in a different element, delivering a troubling, goth-inflected sneer. The stomping bass punches forward without a second thought, driving your head deeper and deeper into the dirt with every crushing trample.
“Early Surgeon” opens with a sharp-edged guitar snarl coming at you from all angles, backed by tight, muscular thuds of percussion that create an earthquake of energy underneath. It’s so turbulent you have to hold on tight or face the consequence of being knocked on your ass continuously. “Gale Maze” closes out the EP with Jones forcefully howling and soaring through the wave of rusty guitars. The first half of the track is a neo-punk onslaught wound up into a wiry ball of aggression, twitching feverishly with a beam of angular guitar fury that engulfs everything in sight. They calm down in the second half of the track, providing a slow-burning psychedelic finish that will singe a hole straight through your eardrum. Jones makes a promise to deliver his “male gaze” by admitting multiple times that “I just want to stare at you.”
As Castle Face promises, this mini-album will facilitate a nice “slap in the brain.” You can still find a copy through some of the links provided below. Take a peek at the “coastal haze” colored vinyl edition right here. Check this Youtube link for a full 15-minute live performance of the band at KEXP in Seattle.
“Cliffs of Madness” 7″ version (released by Mt. St. Mountain)
My Rating: SS
Genre/ Tags: Punk, Post-Punk, Psychedelic, Pop
Gale Maze LP: Tracklist:
1.) Smog Dawn
2.) The Shining Path
3.) Cliffs of Madness
4.) Mr. Wrong
5.) Bridge & Tunnel Vision
6.) Early Surgeon
7.) Gale Maze
Monthly Roundup #1: July 2014